Writing proposals is a responsibility that most agency execs would rather avoid. Some agencies outsource the task to professional writers. They’ve realized that it’s inefficient to ask highly paid executives to perform a task that’s outside of their zone of genius. Smaller agencies may not have that luxury and must learn to incorporate proposal-writing into their long list of responsibilities. I’ve noticed a series of bad habits that, if broken, would make proposals not only easier to write but also more effective at what they’re meant to do–win you new business. Which ones are you guilty of?
It’s not uncommon for agencies to expect their new business leads to excel at both business development and sales. And they’re frequently disappointed when that doesn’t happen. Sales and business development are essential for generating revenue, yet they require paradoxically different skills. Here’s an easy way to determine which one your agency needs more.
What role does confidence play in winning new business? I’m not referring to swagger or arrogance (two qualities that may do more harm than good). I’m talking about stepping into a pitch situation with the confidence of an expert.
I want to offer you a perspective on pitching that is entirely different from the way most agencies treat new business. The premise is both simple and complex and I freely admit I won’t be able to do justice to all it has to offer. But I would like to focus on one of his key messages: Alphas win.
Warning: no magic formulas revealed here. The answer relies on common sense steps toward creating an infrastructure, filling it with data, and then using it with purpose and consistency. Yet, it’s not uncommon to see an agency miss or neglect a step. Which one do you tend to neglect?
Stories are a perfect pitching device. Yet, despite the many agencies that declare themselves “brand storytellers”, they don’t always deploy that same skill on their behalf.
They get swallowed up by their own jargon or blindly grasp for the right words to describe the intangible qualities that make them different from their peers—with the ironic result that they end up sounding exactly the same.
If this applies to you, then I want to offer you a technique to use on your next pitch.
Let’s start the new year off by eschewing theoretical advice in favor of some tactical guidance you can put to good use right away to improve the effectiveness of your proposals: how to write the perfect proposal cover letter.
Why is a cover letter so important? It may be the only section of your proposal or RFP response that your client actually reads (besides the pricing section). Sure, that’s a cynical attitude, but it’s based on personal experience as well as the experience of other experts, like agency search consultants, that’s been shared with me.
Embrace the cover letter as a strategic sales tool for presenting a persuasive argument for hiring your agency.
Each December, I approach my own end-of-year assessment with enthusiasm. Going back through the notes I’ve made or the articles I clipped to Evernote over the last twelve months is a like a nerdy version of a child carefully going through her bulging Christmas stocking.
And, of the numerous inspiring, terrifying, and thought-provoking developments we’ve lived through this year, here are four trends that I think are going to stick around and continue to affect the way agencies pursue new business in 2019.
Generating leads is central to any business development strategy. And you hate it. You find excuses to avoid outbound prospecting whenever possible.
For some agencies, outsourcing lead generation is a great idea. Though, as I wrote in my last post, it only works if you hold up your end of the bargain. My friend Mark Duval agrees. He runs Duval Partnership, a firm that offers outsourced prospecting and lead generation to agencies. Over a recent conversation he generously shared his thoughts on what makes an agency prospecting campaign successful as well as the skewed expectations he routinely comes up against.
Recently, a client of mine asked me to help him evaluate a lead generation firm he was thinking about hiring. The lead gen firm had sent him an extensive questionnaire so it could gather enough information to create a set of persuasive sales messages. It included questions you’d expect: How do you describe your ideal client? What makes your agency different from competitors? Why do you do what you do?
My client asked me for my advice. Would I assess this firm and tell him what I thought of the questionnaire?
My feedback was that there was nothing wrong with the questionnaire. The question I had for him: Was he was happy with his answers? And, should the lead generator bring him quality leads, did he believe he was prepared to close the business?
I gave my client some advice on how to make sure his investment would pay off. If you’re considering outsourcing lead generation, then it might be good advice for you too. Read more
Winning a new business pitch hinges on your ability to perform a crucial task: communicating to your prospect that your agency brings more value to the deal than your competitors. Sounds straightforward enough, so why do the majority of agencies lose more frequently than they win? Because, there’s a fundamental disconnect between how we communicate our pitch and how our audience receives it. Here are five ways you can close that gap and win more new business.